We all know that little ones can be a handful. There are probably some days where you’re thinking, “I can’t wait until he’s old enough for preschool so I can have a break!” Completely understandable. And if those thoughts have entered your mind, you’re probably not seriously considering homeschooling at that age. But, you’d be missing out.
The pre-kindergarten years are the most fun for parents–at least from my experience. Those are the years when kids are starting to develop personalities, quirks, senses of humor, and the desire to learn. So while, yes, kids can be exhausting at that age, there may be no better parenting experience than teaching your eager little student and watching him or her develop and learn right in front of your eyes. And by starting to homeschool at the preschool level, you take control of your child’s education right from the start, which offers you the flexibility to choose your own curriculum and plan a schedule that works for you.
If you’ve already contemplated homeschooling your pre-K student or I’ve changed your mind on the subject, here are some ways to successfully homeschool for pre-K.
Figure out your schedule.
Most preschools offer three and five-day weekly schedules. Three-day schedules are generally recommended for younger pre-K students (age 3 or so), while five-day weeks are more suited for 4- and 5-year-olds to prepare them for kindergarten. It’s entirely up to you, but it’s best to ease your child into a schedule. Three days of learning and two days of your regular daily routine is a great place to start.
Before you start teaching, it’s also smart to figure out what your school day actually looks like. Many preschools offer half-day sessions, and that’s an ideal way to go for first-time students. Your schedule could be something as simple as this:
8:00 am to 8:30 am–comprehension/reading time
8:30 am to 9:00 am–active time
9:00 am to 9:30 am–math time
9:30 am to 9:45 am–snack
9:45 am to 10:15 am–story time
10:15 am to 10:45 am–motor skills play
10:45 am to 11:15 am–colors and shapes
11:15 am to 11:45 am–active time
11:45 am to 12:00 noon–cleanup/end of day
Subjects to teach.
Some of the subjects in the sample schedule above are somewhat vague, so let’s look at each to see what’s involved.
- Reading/comprehension time: Not to be confused with story time, this is the time when you sit with your little one and start teaching him or her comprehension. This is the time to pull out the ABC flash cards, the memory games, matching cards, etc. These are the building blocks, the foundation for reading, and it’s important to start with these types of activities so your child develops the skills to read ahead of kindergarten.
- Active time: Being active and taking breaks for activity during the school day is important for preschoolers for a couple of reasons:
- it breaks up the day a bit (we all know that kids this age don’t exactly have the longest attention spans)
- it provides time to exercise and expend some energy and
- it allows children to work on their gross motor skills.
If the weather allows, head outside and do some hopping and jumping, throw and kick a big ball around the yard, and run in place for a short period of time. Then give them a few minutes to cool down, get a drink, and prepare for the next part of the day.
- Math time: I use the term “math” VERY loosely here–we’re not talking algebra or calculus. Math in this case is simply teaching numbers and helping your child learn how to count! This can be accomplished any number of ways (get it? number?). You can use number flash cards, blocks or toys around the house, and their little fingers! At this stage of their education, all you’re looking for is number recognition and the ability to start counting. The rest will come as the student gets older.
- Story time: Now YOU’RE the star of the show! Kids love hearing stories, so grab some of your favorite children’s stories and dedicate a part of each school day (and any other part of the day, really) to telling a story. And there is a difference between simply reading a story and telling a story. A story is simply words if there’s no emotion behind them, so go crazy and have fun reading! Act out each voice, be loud and silly, make your child laugh. Enjoying stories and books at an early age can help create a lifelong love of reading.
- Fine motor skills play: Outdoor exercise works on gross motor skills, while arts and crafts-types of activities help develop fine motor skills. Painting, coloring, drawing, cutting with scissors (safety scissors, of course), learning how to zip or button a coat, and playing with Play D’oh are all fun ways to enhance your child’s fine motor skills.
- Colors and shapes: Pretty self-explanatory and easy to teach. Whether you use books, flash cards, or literally any object in your home/classroom, teaching your little learner about colors and shapes is an important part of their early development.
- Cleanup: This part is also self-explanatory–and helpful! Children should learn about responsibility at an early age, and cleaning up after their school day is a perfect place to start! Sing a cleanup song and help your little one put everything back in its place so you’re ready to get started the next school day.
Curriculum, learning materials, and supplies.
When you’re setting up your preschool classroom, you’ll obviously need a variety of supplies before you start teaching. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Curriculum: There’s no need for any complex curriculum at this age. The best thing to do is check out a curriculum retailer, like Curriculum Express, and browse the age-appropriate titles available.
- Books: Set up a small bookshelf and fill it with children’s favorites. These are the books you’ll turn to at story time or to teach letters, colors, numbers, shapes, and more.
- Dry erase boards/pockets and markers: You could go old school and opt for a chalkboard and eraser, but most homeschoolers today go for a dry erase board and markers for their lessons. It’s clean, easy, and convenient–no clapping chalkboard erasers together!
- Pencils, markers, paint, brushes, other art supplies: How else can your little Picasso create the works of art you’ll hang in the classroom and on your fridge?
- Play D’oh or clay: Lots of fun for the kids (and adults…I mean, have you seen some of the sets they make now??) and a great way for them to keep their hands busy and practice fine motor skills.
- Blocks and other learning toys: Fun while learning? Who doesn’t love that?
- Classroom supplies: This is more for you than your students. If you’re dedicating a certain part of your home to creating a homeschool classroom, you’ll want to make sure you have things supplies like a table or desk, a comfortable chair, a calendar, wall decorations for the room, a cubby for your child, and a dedicated cabinet or drawer for your supplies–this will come in handy as you progress through the grades and you need a place to store your instructor and answer guides.
Things your preschooler should know before kindergarten.
By the time your child is finished pre-K, he or she should be ready to take on kindergarten. In order to be ready to move on, there are certain skills that your student will have displayed to indicate that kindergarten is the logical next step. Now, all children learn differently and at their own pace, so don’t be discouraged if yours hasn’t mastered every skill on this list. These are more guidelines than absolutes. So, if your child is able to:
- Say his first and last name.
- Write her name using a capital letter and recognize her name when she sees it.
- Hold a pencil, crayon, and scissors with his thumb, index, and middle fingers.
- Visually recognize numbers up to 10.
- Know what number sequences look like.
- Know her shapes and colors.
- Recognize most of the alphabet and know some of the letters’ sounds.
- Count to 10 on his fingers.
- Sit down to read a book, opening at the front and turning pages.
- Make a rhyme.
- Sit still while being read a story.
- Tell someone how her day went and what happened, in chronological order…
…they’re probably ready for kindergarten!
These years are some of the best, most rewarding as a parent. Taking the very start of your child’s education into your own hands is a wonderful way to bond with your little one and lay the groundwork for an incredible learning adventure that he or she will take them wherever they go.
Bridgeway Academy is proud to offer a complete pre-K package–Total Care Pre-K, a fully supported homeschool program available in both secular and faith-based options. One faith-based Total Care Pre-K program features lessons that introduce social studies, language arts, math, phonics, science, health and safety, arts and crafts, music, and physical education. The hands-on activities are perfect for little bodies, while concepts are reinforced through games, songs, poems, and drama. The other faith-based option is designed to encourage a love of reading and includes Bible and animal pictures, coordination development activities, and full-color picture stories that cover math, English, social studies, animal science, and word building. The secular program delivers the same high-quality education, without the biblical components.
Bridgeway also offers a pre-K option called Discover! Pre-K, a FREE secular program designed to meet kids where they are, spark and encourage curiosity, and help preschoolers thrive in this extraordinary stage of brain growth. It’s aligned with learning standards, giving you everything you need for the year so you can homeschool your preschooler on your own.
Give us a call at (800) 863-1474 to learn more about our amazing pre-K programs.